Illini Battle Back for First Win at Georgia State, 19-13
Feb. 15, 2014
ATLANTA, Ga. - Illinois (1-1) fell behind 5-0 in the first inning, but battled back with an eight-run fourth inning on its way to a 19-13 victory against Georgia State (1-1), marking the Illini's first win of the season. The Panthers got within one after seven innings but UI collected five insurance runs in the ninth to seal the slugfest on a windy Saturday at the GSU Baseball Complex.
"We faced early adversity, but I was proud that we hung in there and our offense continued to battle," head coach Dan Hartleb said. "The wind was blowing out about 25 mph on a chilly day and we gave up five runs in the bottom of the first. It was tough, but we came through with the big eight-run inning to take the lead. Every time Georgia State started to come back, we put up more runs again."
Trailing by five runs, Illinois chipped away at the deficit with a run in both the second and third before grabbing a 10-5 lead with eight runs in the fourth. The Illini never relinquished the lead despite GSU cutting it to a one-run game twice. After a UI run in the sixth, the Panthers made it 11-10 with a five-run sixth inning. Both teams scored three runs in the seventh, making it 14-13, but the Illini pulled away with five runs in the final frame.
Sophomore Ryan Nagle had a career day, going 4-for-5 with three runs and four RBI. Junior Will Krug finished 4-for-6 with with three runs, a pair of RBI and three stolen bases as the leadoff man. Freshman Pat McInerney and junior Michael Hurwitz each went 3-for-6 with two runs scored, while redshirt-junior Reid Roper homered for the second-straight day, finishing with three runs and four RBI.
"I was very pleased with the middle of the lineup," Hartleb said. "We had quality at-bats and that led to a lot of hits. If you look up and down the lineup, everybody hit the ball hard on a regular basis."
Freshman Cody Sedlock earned his first collegiate win in his first appearance after taking over on the mound with two outs in the first inning. He kept the Illini within striking distance and allowed three runs in 4.2 innings. Sophomore Tyler Jay pitched the final two innings and notched his first career save with five strikeouts.
"Pitching was tough today," Hartleb said. "I was disappointed that we didn't get the leadoff hitter out in any of the first eight innings. Tyler did a great job to get us out of a jam in the eighth and closed down the game in the ninth. I was really pleased with his performance."
Illinois found itself in a 5-0 hole after three GSU homers in the first inning. The Panthers hit a two-run shot and solo bomb back-to-back followed by another two-run homer with two outs. Sedlock relieved starter John Kravetz and stopped the bleeding in the first frame.
The Illini got one back in the second on a Krug RBI single that plated Nagle and added another on Reid Roper's second homer in as many days that made it 5-2 in the third. UI sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and scored eight runs on four hits and two GSU errors.
Krug started the fourth with a bunt single and ended up scoring twice in the inning and stealing three bases. Nagle had a two-run double, freshman Ryne Roper tallied his first career RBI and catcher Kelly Norris-Jones had an RBI groundout during the comeback.
Krug raced to the first Illini triple of the year with two outs in the sixth, scoring Ryne Roper for his first career run. In the seventh, Reid Roper brought home Hurwitz, McInerney had his first career RBI single and Nagle had an RBI groundout, which accounted for the three runs.
McInerney and Nagle started the top of the ninth with back-to-back doubles, beginning the insurance run campaign. After GSU walked the bases loaded, sophomore Adam Walton reached on a fielder's choice to second, which was thrown away, allowing three runs to score. Reid Roper capped off the 19-run effort with an RBI single, marking the 20th hit of the three hour, 44 minute game.
The last time Illinois had 20 hits in a game was last season against Purdue on April 14. It was the most runs Illinois scored since putting up 21 against Oakland on March 30, 2013.
Up Next: Illinois and Georgia State will play the rubber game for the series victory on Sunday at noon CT. Redshirt-junior Drasen Johnson, who entered the rotation this season, will start against Matt Rose.